“Never Visit Venice” by Robert Aickman
In the last hour of his life, lonely and alienated middle class Englishman Henry Fern finds himself speeding out to sea beyond the Lido in a black gondola, seated next to a human skeleton.
Henry has measured out his life by the coffee spoon, and has waited years to fulfill a recurring dream (and daydream) of visiting Venice. Now,
At the very end of the leftward or San Erasmo breakwater, the shorter of the two, Fern could just make out a large inscription daubed by supporters of the previous Italian regime, and never obliterated owing to difficulty of access – and perhaps other things. It was to the effect that a simple hour as a lion is to be preferred to a lifetime as an ass.
Had he but known!
The night before, when the skeleton was still a beautifully costumed woman, and she and Henry were making love in the gondola, Henry said:
‘Make my dream come true. Love me.’
She still did not speak….
‘Make my life worth while. Redeem me.’
From the depths of her black cloak she looked into his eyes.
‘You said you dreamed no longer. Do you know why?’
‘I think I began to despair of the dream coming true.’
‘The dream stopped when you decided to visit Venice. Never visit Venice.’
25 June 2017
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